On November 30, 2017 ATOX signed a joint research agreement with RIKEN to commence R&D on lead-212 (212 Pb) generators for radio isotope (RI) radiation therapy using α-ray-emitting nuclides, a new and promising cancer treatment that is drawing a lot of interest.
Radio isotope (RI) medical therapy using α-ray-emitting nuclides can target cancers from inside the body with α-rays. The method is potentially an effective form of non-surgical treatment for metastatic cancer. A 212Pb generator is a compact device capable of producing the isotope 212Pb from radium-224 (224Ra) without the need for a nuclear reactor, accelerator, or other large-scale facility.
This joint research project, which was selected to be part of the Japan Science and Technology Agency’s 2017 Program on Open Innovation Platform with Enterprises, Research Institute and Academia (OPERA), will run for five years.
RIKEN has been researching radio isotopes for more than 80 years, producing numerous important findings with its well-equipped research environment and management system, including the discovery of the new element nihonium.
Meanwhile, since the 1950s ATOX has established offices within nuclear power plants to develop comprehensive maintenance technologies for nuclear facilities. Recently, we have also engaged in developing RI-based business opportunities in the medical field. This joint research project enables ATOX and RIKEN to take advantage of each other’s respective strengths.
[Addendum] Overview and benefits of RI therapy utilizing α-ray-emitting nuclides
Unlike conventional radiation therapy from outside the body, this method of cancer treatment works by injecting α-ray-emitting nuclides inside the body to act directly on cancer cells from within. An internal treatment method using radium chloride-223 (223RaCl2) as the α-ray-emitting nuclide is already being used successfully for the castration-resistant prostate cancer with bone metastasis.
The two main benefits of this treatment are as follows.
(1) The ability to target multiple cancers in the body at once by combining lead-212 (212Pb) with antibodies or peptides that specifically accumulate in cancer growths and then intravenously administering these.
(2) Minimal burden is imposed on healthy sites because α-rays act only on a very narrow range of cells around the targeted site.